Doha (The Hawk): On November 24, at Stadium 974, Cristiano Ronaldo wrote the script for World Cup history as Portugal opened its Qatar 2022 campaign with a tense 3-2 victory over Ghana.
Ronaldo's contract at Manchester United expired this week, and he was hoping to impress prospective new clubs. He missed two excellent opportunities in the first half before being fouled by Ghanaian defender Mohammed Salisu and being awarded a penalty.
After the ball found the back of the net, a beaming Ronaldo wheeled away, leaping and swivelling in the air as the fans cheered "SI-UUUU" in unison, before being surrounded by teammates.
Ronaldo became the first male player to score in five World Cups with his 65th-minute penalty kick as Portugal defeated Ghana 3-2 on Thursday. He also gave Portugal a 1-0 lead over Ghana. In the 73rd minute, Andre Ayew equalised the score, giving Ghana's large crowd at the 974 Stadium something to celebrate. Five minutes later, Rafael Leao received a pass from Ronaldo after Joao Felix had restored Portugal's advantage, leaving Ghana speechless. Ronaldo then displayed class with a jinking run before passing to Rafael Leao.
Osman Bukari gave Ghana a late goal, but Portugal held on to win the opening match of the World Cup for the first time in their previous four appearances, courtesy to Osman Bukari's headed comeback in the 89th minute.
He has now scored in every competition since scoring his first World Cup goal in 2006 against Iran in the group stage by converting a penalty. Ronaldo scored one goal at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, another at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and four goals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Additionally, Ronaldo increased his total to 118 goals for men's international play.
Earlier, despite Cristiano Ronaldo having the ball in the net and missing two early chances, Portugal dominated Ghana but were unable to break through. Ronaldo might have scored twice in the opening 15 minutes, but he missed both of his chances. He scored from close range in the 31st minute after the referee blew his whistle for an offence against him.
With superbly timed through-balls that led to the team's second and third goals, Bruno Fernandes was instrumental in Portugal's triumph. However, Portugal's players almost lost it in the closing minutes as they lost control of the situation. This includes the humorous scene of Bukari imitating Ronaldo's "SI-UUU" celebration after scoring. On Monday, when Ghana plays South Korea, Portugal, who is now leading the group with three points, will play Uruguay.
(Inputs from Agencies)